(Be a) Better Bearcat Programming Series
Residential Life leadership has been addressing student stress levels beyond De-Stress December initiatives. Sharon O’Neill, Kristin Calegari, Jeff Horowitz, Amy Pollock, Leah Shaw, Greg Steele and Casey Wall were interested in offering events throughout the semester, rather than just before exams when it might be too late to affect a change.
Their research indicated that there are several stress predictors for students in the residence halls:
• Students do not feel they can study or sleep in the building and don’t feel like they have the skills to talk to neighbors about issues
• Both positive and negative roommate relationships cause stress (again, lack of communication skills)
• Higher involvement correlated to higher reported stress levels
• Knowing more people in the community also predicted higher stress
• Alcohol consumption is used to manage stress, and causes stress
However, research also showed that being resilient is a key to dealing with stress: Students who believe “I can do this” have an easier time adjusting to college, interpersonal skills are key to greater resilience, access to and perceived helpfulness of resources during stress is crucial and a positive attachment to parents is a predictor of better stress management, especially for women.
Based on this information, Residential Life staff developed a six-program series to span the academic year, with each program focusing on a different skill that can help students manage stress:
• September: interpersonal communication
• October: time management
• November: power foods
• February: meditation
• March: communication with parents as an adult
• April: yoga and resiliency
Marketing to notify students about the programs has included posting a teaser poster − “Be a Better Bearcat” − on each RA floor, posting an informational poster with program details in the lobby of each building, posting a flyer on Facebook pages for communities and sending an e-mail to all residents via a listserv.
All of the programs are campus-wide and take place across campus. Baxter has been invited to attend each of the events and photo opportunities are offered to participants. Students who attend have their ID scanned and each time (up to three times/semester) they attend, their name will be put into a drawing for a massage gift certificate at the Wellness Services Suite at the Campus Rec Center at the East Gym.